Sung Hyun Park moved into early position to steal the show and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking at this week’s HSBC Women’s World Championship.
World No. 1 Shanshan Feng, No. 2 Lexi Thompson and No. 3 Park were grouped together in the first round in Singapore.
Feng entered the week just .098 points ahead of Thompson, with Park .665 back.
While Thompson has never been mathematically closer to seizing the No. 1 ranking for the first time, Park now looms as a larger threat to Feng after getting off to a fast start Thursday on Sentosa Golf Club’s Tanjong Course.
Park opened with a 4-under-par 68 on Thursday, leaving her tied for fourth, three shots off the lead.
Full-field scores from the HSBC Women’s World Championship
Feng opened with 70.
Thompson struggled to a 75.
If Park wins this week, she has a chance to go to No. 1, depending on what Feng and Thompson do.
The scenarios are complex, but Park can move to the top of the rankings with a victory if Feng finishes worse than a solo fourth, or worse than a three-way tie for third, or worse than a seven-way tie for second.
And, if Thompson also finishes worse than a three-way tie for third or worse than a six-way tie for second.
Park can only get to No. 1 with a victory.
Park moved to No.1 in the world for the first time on Nov. 6 of last year, ending So Yeon Ryu’s 19-week run atop the world rankings. Park, however, lasted just one week there, with Feng taking over the following week. Feng is in her 16th week at No. 1.
There’s a long way to go this week with a lot of world ranking variables, with Feng and Thompson so close at the top of the rankings.
Thompson is by no means out of the running for No. 1 after her sluggish start. She has a mathematical chance to get to No. 1 with anything better than a 20th place finish, depending on what Feng and Park do.